FREE AIR TIME TO BE ALLOCATED FOR DISCUSSIONS IN CONNECTION WITH REFERENDUM IN PUBLIC TV

January 7th, 2009
Musavat Party appealed to Public TV and Radio Council to have additional air time regarding the referendum scheduled to take place on 18 March 2008. The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety was told this by Musavat Party Central Executive Administration Chief Arif Hajili.

“We need additional air time to deliver our alternative ideas regarding 18 March Referendum to public,” he said.  
Public TV Public Relations Department Head Tahir Mammadov said that they were familiar with the appeal. “When broad discussions are organized in connection with referendum, Musavat Party along with other parties can participate in the discussions,” said Mammadov. “However, if we give Musavat Party additional air time, other parties will also ask for additional time. This is not possible and is against public broadcasting principles.”
“The discussions will begin 28 days before voting day and all registered organizations will have right to participate in the discussions regarding the referendum.” This was said by the Central Electoral Commission’s Public Relations Department Head Azer Sariyev. Although he could not say how many hours will be allocated for discussions in TV and Radios, he noted that sides joining the discussions will have the same opportunities.
According to Electoral Code, only Public TV will allocate free air time for the discussions regarding the referendum.
Changes and amendments to article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan will be recommended during 18 March Referendum. To eliminate the limit on the number of terms someone can serve as a president of Azerbaijan is also reflected among the recommendations.